Light Reading
Comcast EVP David Cohen argues that the MSO is following open Internet principles and that Internet 'fast lanes' still need to be defined.

Comcast's Cohen: Define Internet Fast Lanes

Mari Silbey
5/14/2014
50%
50%

Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen is certainly earning his pay these days.

Taking advantage of another forum to state his company's case on the open Internet debate, Cohen spoke at the inaugural MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit Wednesday morning. Covering issues that included paid prioritization, the interconnection market, usage-based billing, and market consolidation, Cohen made it clear that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) believes it is not only following the legal guidelines imposed by US regulators, but also the principles of the government's open Internet policy.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler provoked an immediate and largely negative reaction last month when he proposed letting broadband providers create network "fast lanes" for bandwidth-hogging Internet video companies such as Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX). But Cohen cautioned that the definition of a fast lane hasn't even been determined yet. (See Edgewater Reanimated by $5M for SDN/NFV.)

"We are not sure we know what paid prioritization, or what a fast lane is. No one's defined that," he said in this morning's conversation with telecom analyst Craig Moffett.

Moffett then clarified that Comcast's current commitment -- under the conditions that it accepted in exchange for approval of its acquisition of NBC Universal -- doesn't take paid prioritization into account at all. Cohen agreed. "Whatever it is," he said, "we're allowed to do it."

While Cohen was definitive about following the letter of the law, he was also careful to emphasize that Comcast isn't trying to get away with anything that goes against the spirit of the open Internet. He pointed out that even if strict Title II regulations were imposed on the broadband market, there would still be nothing to prohibit operators from providing different levels of service to different types of customers, just as they currently do when differentiating between business and residential subscribers. The premise of offering different types of service, in Cohen's view, doesn't violate the open Internet doctrine.

Speculating on Wheeler's upcoming Internet regulatory rulings, Cohen also guessed that the chairman would ultimately decide that paid prioritization deals have to be determined on a case-by-case basis, with "commercially unreasonable" agreements being deemed unlawful under regulatory review.

Neither Moffett nor Cohen spoke in detail about the current battle between Internet service providers and transit providers such as Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT) and Cogent Communications Group Inc. (Nasdaq: CCOI). Transit providers have argued that some ISPs are deliberately allowing peering points to degrade to force transit partners to pay for better service. However, Cohen did say that he believes the cost of transport should be proportionate to actual usage. He added that the right way to manage overall costs is to move to a usage-based billing model for consumers.

Comcast is currently running tests of usage-based billing in several markets, including a pilot in Atlanta that was started late last year. Cohen said that so far the Atlanta trial has had no effect on about 98% of customers. He also argued that if the model is adopted universally in the future, he believes the same trend would hold true, with very few subscribers needing to pay monthly overage fees for exceeding a capacity threshold.

The entire conversation at the MoffettNathanson event comes within the context of both Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and the FCC's plan to consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the subject of open Internet regulations. (See FCC's Wheeler: 'Internet Will Remain an Open Pathway' and In Cable We (Anti)trust.)

Although the rhetoric level is high, there are significant issues being hashed out within the public sphere. The debate continues tomorrow at the next FCC Open Commission Meeting.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/15/2014 | 1:58:40 PM
Re: What am I missing?
It's clear that there's a great deal of short term profitability potential for carriers making sweetheart deals for their own content and for providers. In the long term, a neutral net makes the Internet more desirable and useful and therefore creates more profitability potential for everyone. 
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/15/2014 | 1:18:51 PM
Re: What am I missing?
My take on Cohen's comments is that he's trying to be politically correct at the moment, but still leaving the door open for fast lane charges. On one hand he says he's for open internet but on the other says he's waiting on the FCC rulings and Comcast will be entitlted like every other provider to adopt new pricing,
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/14/2014 | 7:52:05 PM
What am I missing?
I am hugely suspicious on the subject of net neutrality, but Comcast's proposal seems reasonable. Charge everybody based on usage. As long as everybody's charged the same rate -- but not necessarily the same amount -- then usage-based charges are perfectly fair, reasonable, and preserve competition and openness. 
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/14/2014 | 4:49:14 PM
Cohen
"Cohen said that so far the Atlanta trial has had no effect on about 98% of customers. He also argued that if the model is adopted universally in the future, he believes the same trend would hold true, with very few subscribers needing to pay monthly overage fees for exceeding a capacity threshold."

That would entirely depend on Comcast adjusting its caps to scale with usage demand, though. And since the entire purpose of imposing these caps and meters is to protect TV revenues from Internet video, I have an aching suspicion that won't be happening.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
From 4G to 5G: Alcatel-Lucent's Dave Geary

11|25|14   |   09:09   |   (1) comment


Dave Geary, President of Wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, talks about the evolution of the 4G market, small cells, partnerships, 5G and the IoT.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Secure Telefonica Network With Huawei's High-End Firewall

11|24|14   |   4:37   |   (0) comments


Andrew Davies, IP architect of the Telefonica, a leading digital communications company, discusses the Huawei security gateway solution and putting the solution into the testbed.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners with Spirent to Verify CE12816's 10GE Port & TRILL Networking Capabilities

11|24|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Spirent Communications is the world's leading supplier for telecom testing appliances and solutions. Spirent has been in a close partnership with Huawei for a long time.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Airlines & Its ICT Transformation

11|24|14   |   2:07   |   (0) comments


In this video, Saudi Airlines discusses its network problems and how Huawei's Agile Network is its all-in-one solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Switch Benefiting Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital

11|24|14   |   2:40   |   (0) comments


Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital speaks about how Huawei's Agile Switch has improved the medical service's network infrastructure.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FanPlay & Huawei Build a Wireless Agile Smart Stadium

11|24|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


FanPlay is a cloud-based white label service, which is effectively a football fan engagement platform underpinned by mobile payment technology.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building an Agile Stadium

11|24|14   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Stadiums may be thousands of tons of concrete and steel, but they now need to be agile. Being at the stadium may not be as alluring as it once was. Sports franchises and stadium operators discuss how to get fans back.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Helps ChinaCache Tackle Challenges in the Internet Industry

11|24|14   |   3:09   |   (0) comments


ChinaCache is China's largest content distribution network supplier. Huawei's CE12800 has provided ChinaCache with very strong support in its establishment of an infrastructure network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Cefinity on Managed Security Services & Next-Generation Firewall

11|24|14   |   7:05   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a cloud management service provider in Southeast Asia. Ivan Zhang, CEO of the company, discusses the implementation of security service management in the cloud era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Gateway in the Eyes of Cefinity

11|24|14   |   2:11   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a managed service provider for enterprise networks. The company currently uses Huawei's AR series routers for the most complete range of functions. CEO Ivan Zhang speaks about the advantages of the AR series routers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
CTO of Bus-Online Talks About Huawei's Agile Gateway

11|24|14   |   2:53   |   (0) comments


Bus-Online covers around 100 million users everyday. In addition to providing mobile TV, and advertising services to the public, Bus-Online has also entered the field of mobile Internet.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Amsterdam ArenA as an Agile Campus

11|24|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Amsterdam ArenA, home of the Ajax soccer team, can be a crowded space. ArenA has partnered with Huawei to work on bringing ample bandwidth to 53,000 people at the same time.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Operators Should Block Ads to Get Their Cut, Startup Says
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/24/2014
$35B+ Spectrum Auction Dings Verizon, Shines Dish
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/24/2014
Amazon Eyes Ad-Supported Video – NY Post
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 11/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed